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  • Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.

At PPAC - Hamilton makes history using history

After a Covid-19 imposed pause that began in March 2020, Hamilton returned to the live stage, arriving in Rhode Island at the Providence Performing Arts Center November 30.

Once again, the smash hit that has won a boatload of awards, including 11 Tonys, shows why it will endure for years to come. Using history to do so, it is making history in the realm of musical theater.

Incorporating hip-hop, jazz, rhythm and blues, and Broadway conventions in a unique blending of styles, it improbably creates an innovative and compelling vehicle that tells the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.

You can’t look away or stop listening to the insistent and ardent message that brings Hamilton, the man, back to life. It is the musical biography of a person who helped write the U.S. Constitution and established the nation’s financial framework, and it conveys this uniquely.

Words that vividly capture the urgency of the revolution which created the country jump out of the flood of riveting dialogue set to music that was born centuries after the country was.

Phrases like the following strikingly imprint themselves on the ears of viewers: “This is not a moment, it’s a movement.” “I’d rather be divisive than indecisive.” “Dying is easy. Living is harder.” “I’m a polymath and a pain in the ass.”

Vital and captivating, the Lin-Manuel Miranda book inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton is a powerful demonstration of the possibilities inherent in fusing contemporary media with foundational history.

Pierre Jean Gonzalez is excellent in the title role. Stephanie Jae Park excels as Eliza, Hamilton’s loyal, if much-tested wife. Her voice is exceptional.

Directing the production at PPAC is Tiffany Nicole Greene, a graduate of the Brown University-Trinity Rep program.

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